Nigeria’s foremost agribusiness lender, Unity Bank Plc, has said it will provide additional funding to no fewer than 120,000 smallholder maize farmers in Nigeria in the 2021 wet season farming in Nigeria.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Mrs. Tomi Somefun, disclosed this while delivering a goodwill message at the unveiling of the first National Maize Pyramids and flag-off of wet season farming programmes held over the weekend in Katsina.
As a major stakeholder in the roll out of the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), Unity Bank was invited to participate in the events marking the unveiling by the Maize Association of Nigeria, MAAN.
Represented by Head, Agribusiness unit of the bank, Mrs. Patricia Ahunanya, Somefun said the additional funding for 2021 wet season farming is “in furtherance to the Bank’s commitment towards supporting maize farmers” in the country.
She stated that the strategic partnership with the Maize Association of Nigeria commenced in 2019 with the financing of about 37,182 smallholder farmers, with the Bank increasing its financing tally to 70,604 smallholder farmers in 2020.
Commenting on the maize pyramid, Somefun stated that “The maize Pyramids will go down in history as the first maize pyramid in Nigeria which demonstrates not only the resilience of our farmers but also the commendable vision of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the implementing partners. This should be replicated in all states with a focus on the crops that have comparative advantage.”
She noted that with agriculture contributing over 26% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, and employing about 50% of Nigeria’s working population in the rural areas, the Bank will continue to make strategic investments into the sector in line with the Federal Government’s quest to attain food sufficiency, diversify the economy away from oil, create jobs for the youth and reduce poverty.
She added: “Unity Bank is fully committed to its partnership with MAAN and this commitment will ensure the attainment of FGN/CBN target to meeting self-sufficiency in Maize production through the Association”.
Also speaking, the national President of MAAN, Dr. Abubakar Bello commended Unity Bank for its continued support of the farmers through its strategic role in providing the necessary financing to the maize farmers.
He said: “We cannot appreciate enough our financing partners, especially Unity Bank. Today we have over 50,000 bags of maize in this pyramid, which will contribute significantly to Nigeria’s strategic grain reserves. This could not have been possible without the financing made possible by these partners. We commend them for this role and remain grateful.”
He restated the commitment of the association to continue to meet the financing obligations and sustain the drive for increased maize output in the 2021 wet season farming.
Recall that recently, Unity Bank received similar commendation from Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN over the Bank’s strategic role in providing the necessary support to the association to explore the opportunities provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme. RIFAN specially commended Mrs. Somefun for her leadership and doggedness in supporting the rice farmers through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, which is playing a critical role in Nigeria’s quest to attain self-sufficiency in rice production.